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Stories from the Classroom & Community


Newspapers and websites are filled with the latest statistics portraying what’s going on in the nation’s schools and classrooms, but numbers can’t tell the entire story. In this section, we want you to submit the stories and personal anecdotes that move beyond statistics. Tell us the successes—or struggles—you’re facing in your classroom. Tell us how a student or educator has impacted your life. Tell us what you’re doing in your community or school to improve the educational opportunities available to students. We’ll highlight the most interesting stories we receive so others can read them.

Follow the story of Dunbar High School in Fort Myers, Florida as it emerges from an era of desegregation and evolves into a first-class institution that provides students with rich opportunities to excel in STEM fields.

Latest Story

Dunbar High School: Academy for Technical Excellence

This story was submitted by Denise Spence, IT Programs Manager and Lead Technology Teacher at Dunbar High School. 

In 1926, Dunbar High School was constructed on what is now High Street. It was named for the poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar. The construction of this school, along with the adjacent Williams Primary, provided K-12 educational opportunities for neighborhood minority children. This Dunbar High School graduated its last class of students in 1962.

In 1962, students moved to a new school on Edison Avenue which was named Dunbar Senior High School. Graduates emerged from the halls of this school from 1962 through 1969. In 1969, this school was closed due to a desegregation order, which forced high school aged minority students from the Dunbar community into other high schools throughout Lee County. The school reopened again as Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School, until the new middle school facility was erected. Paul Laurence Dunbar Middle School moved to its new location, on Winkler Avenue Extension, just south of Colonial Boulevard.

Then in the fall of 2000, Dunbar High School was reopened to high school age students. Initially, opening with 9th graders and then adding a new grade level each year, Dunbar High School continued to draw a high percentage of minority students to its location with a high percentage of free/reduce lunch students. By 2005, Dunbar High School’s minority to majority ratio was incongruent to the demographics of the district. Therefore, something had to be done to help eliminate minority isolation in the district. Dunbar High School (DHS) needed to develop a unique attractor program that would assist in the prevention of minority group isolation and attract a diverse student population to the school. As technology continues to be an inherent societal need for all, DHS recognized a need to provide high-end technology training.

In 2003-2004, a $3.3 million federally funded Magnet School Assistance Program Grant provided DHS with the chance to start the Academy for Technology Excellence (ATE) program. The process for reducing/eliminating isolation of minority subgroups was simple in its design. Our solution: create a program that would focus on a rigorous curriculum, leading to industry certification that would enticed a diverse and motivated student body that would want to come to a school that contains a high percentage of minority subgroups.

The Academy for Technology Excellence (ATE) program was uniquely designed to provide 9th-12th grade students with the training needed to get over 14 most in-demand industry standard IT certifications from industry icons like Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, & Adobe. ATE prepares students for advanced information technology careers. Honors weighted credit and dual enrollment credit are also offered to attract students interested in college. Our district supported the design and insured that all zoned students were aware of the program. The district opened the opportunity up to South and East zoned schools. As long as the student was in the correct zone for school choice, then all that they needed to do was to fill out an application of interest to be enrolled.

The ATE program has truly enabled students to cross the digital divide and focus on essential skills to make them more marketable for their future. (more…)

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Tell Us Your Story

Every Child a Graduate. Every Child Prepared for Life.